TikTok designs new measures for teen well-being  

  • TikTok has announced a series of changes it says are designed to protect its teenage users’ wellbeing. 
  • Users aged 13-15 will not receive push notifications from 21:00 – and for 16- and 17-year-olds, from 22:00.  
  • In addition, 16- and 17-year-olds will have to opt in to receive direct messages, and before they can post their first TikTok, under-16s will now be asked to choose who can see their videos (followers, only friends or just themselves).  
  • This follows Google’s new children’s privacy measures, Apple’s new updates and Instagram’s efforts to curb online hate.  
  • Full story here 

Emojis are making it harder for tech giants to track down online abuse 

  • Abusive online posts are less likely to be identified if they feature emojis, new research suggests. 
  • Some algorithms designed to track down hateful content are not as effective when these symbols are used as many are trained on large databases of text that rarely feature emojis.  
  • An analysis showed that Instagram accounts posting racist abuse featuring emojis were over three times less likely to be shut down compared to those that just contained text. 
  • To help tackle this problem, researchers created a database of almost 4,000 sentences – most of which included emojis being used offensively. 
  • The Oxford researchers are sharing their database online, enabling other academics and companies to use it to better their own models. 
  • Full story, here 

A-level and GCSE results show pandemic has widened inequality 

  • Comprehensives have doubled the proportion of top A-level grades but in absolute terms, they still fell further behind. 
  • It’s been highlighted before that independent schools and grammar schools account for an outsize proportion of the top grades, but the switch from formal exams to teacher assessments, made necessary by the pandemic this year, has made the gap more noticeable. 
  • A-levels and GCSE results this week showed that independent schools stretched ahead of their state school counterparts in achieving top grades. 
  • While comprehensive schools doubled their proportion of top A-level grades this year compared with 2019, the attainment gap still grew larger.  
  • Among pupils receiving free school meals, the gap between them and those not on free school meals increased from 8 to 12 points. This is despite the rate of top grades achieved among pupils receiving free school meals this year doubling from 2019.  
  • Full story, here 


Air purifiers and ultraviolet lights to be trialled in schools in bid to tackle Covid

  • Thirty schools in Bradford are to take part in a scheme assessing how air purifiers and ultraviolet lights mitigate transmission of coronavirus in schools. 
  • The trial hopes to evaluate how feasible it is to implement the technologies in primary schools. 
  • The first round of results is expected by the end of the year and The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will consider their decision once the trial is complete.  
  • This effort is being backed by £1.8 million from the DHSC and is being conducted by the Centre for Applied Education Research. 
  • This could lead to the technologies being rolled out in schools from 2022, if successful.   
  • Full story, here